I made it to week 2. Woohoo! And by the time you read this, I’ll be back from England and starting work on my travel blog and my last assignment for the academic year. Last year, I don’t think I got this far, so I’m really pleased with myself. Not only that, these posts are still scheduled and I didn’t fall behind at all yet and have to catch up. I’m writing this in March. I feel like I have already won this challenge. So, today I’m covering the letter G and what it represents on my wish list. G stands for Gibraltar, one of my favourite places in the world. I’ve been there four times already and I fully intend to return as soon as I have enough money, but it’s not on the wish list because of that. It’s on the wish list because one day, I want to live there. Read on to find out more.
For those who don’t know, Gibraltar is a small British Overseas Territory which borders Spain. It is officially part of Britain. I first went there in 2005 on my honeymoon. We had a really big fight a few weeks before the wedding because he did something hurtful and to make it up to me, he took me to Gibraltar, to fill in the gap between our wedding and actual honeymoon, which was a cruise. We flew from Manchester directly into Gibraltar and we were there for a short break of three days.
My first impression was from the window of the plane. The runway in Gibraltar crosses a road, so there were cars parked waiting for our plane to taxi down the runway. That’s a bloody weird experience. Kind of like a level crossing, but you’re on a plane instead of a train. The runway is also really close to the sea, so at one point, I did think we were going to land in the water. Obviously, that concern was unfounded. The pilot knew what he was doing.
The next memory of Gibraltar was the airport building being super smokey. The smoking ban hadn’t yet been enforced in Scotland but I still found it difficult to be in such a smokey atmosphere. I think I passive-smoked around a dozen cigarettes while I was going through passport control. By the way, passport control in Gibraltar is the strictest and most formal I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been to countries I would have thought would be less welcoming.
We stayed in the Caleta Hotel, which was nice, but because we were on honeymoon, it felt like the most romantic place in the world. We had a small balcony with a sea view and one of the highlights of my life was sitting on the balcony on the morning before we left, listening to the thunder rumbling in the distance and the ships tooting their horns at each other as they passed. I was young and in love and had my whole life ahead of me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more optimistic than I did then, on that morning.
The next time I was there was the day before my first wedding anniversary. We were on holiday in Spain and decided to go back for a day trip with my step-daughter and her friend. So, that time I arrived by coach. It wasn’t such a happy occasion. Alex had promised to buy me an anniversary gift the night before our trip there, to commemorate our first anniversary and then promptly forgotten that he had made the promise, so I felt a tad grumpy that day. And he had no idea why. My step-daughter imagined that I was grumpy with her (that was unfounded) and everyone ended up having a miserable day. But still, I’d rather be miserable there than anywhere else.
The last time I was in Gibraltar, I was living through one of the most difficult times of my life, up until that point. I’ve had much worse times since then and gotten through them. Because I am a tigress who’s earned her stripes. Being there made me feel happier. I don’t have any explanation for that. I just enjoyed my time and I felt energised, after months of being miserable. I went home as a different person, and a stronger person, to the one who had arrived, that time by boat.
I’ve always had dreams of living abroad, if only for a short time. Scotland will always be my home, but Gibraltar is the place I go to in my mind when I need to recharge. It’s a place that’s familiar but also a dream and unlike Baku, which is another place I think about when I’m at my worst, I have memories of Gibraltar. My thoughts of the town aren’t based on other people’s photographs and experiences and my own imagination. Gibraltar was a real experience. It’s also probably the only place that isn’t on the British or Northern Irish mainland where I can live. I have no degree or savings (yet) and my son’s autism and status as officially disabled, means that all the English-speaking countries I’ve looked at won’t accept us as emigrants. I could start on a rant about how disabled people still have a lot to offer the economy, but I’ll save that for another post. We would still have to make a lot of changes, but it’s do-able, in time.
For the last few months, I’ve been learning Spanish. I’ve told everyone that the reason is because I’m going to Spain later this year, but if I’m honest, I’m thinking about the possibility of living in Gibraltar and I would have to be fluent to make it a comfortable experience. To become fluent will take years and to make the changes necessary to my life to be able to live in Gibraltar would take years too. And a lot of cash.
This is one item on my wish list that may never come true, but that’s ok. Not all of them have to. Finally, here’s a picture of my Dad in Gibraltar on my last trip there, with a barbary macaque’s arse on his head, just because it was hilarious.
Tomorrow I am writing about H for Health. That might be a difficult one, but I’ll give it a go. If you’d like to read more previous A to Z Challenge posts, you can find them all linked at the bottom of the theme reveal post (click here) and don’t forget to hop over to my author website to read the A to Z of Nanowrimo.